January 26th, 2009

Even my own reviews - the ones I write - are hard to look at

When I picked up the paper on Sunday, I found myself avoiding the books page. Because it had my review in it. Not a review of my book - a review I had written. I always worry that I’ll figure out I made some big error and it will be too late and I can't take it back. Which is sort of related to my fears about reviews of my books.

Anyway, in the Sunday Oregonian, I reviewed two books by Portland authors: The Fetch and Far from You.

Read the reviews here.

[Full disclosure: and on a sidenote, as another blog pointed out, don’t the jackets for Graceling and The Fetch look alike? I guess there are only so many ideas in the world.]

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Adios to All the Drama

About the book
Adios To All The Drama is by Diana Rodriguez Wallach.

Mariana Ruiz thought she left her summer fling in Puerto Rico, that is until she finds Alex sitting across from her at the breakfast table. Living two doors down from her visiting old flame isn’t easy, especially given the unresolved sparks still lingering for her locker buddy Bobby—and they don’t exactly go unnoticed.

Her best friends are little help as Madison deals with her IM-only “boyfriend” and Emily sinks into secret mode after her parents’ recent breakup. The only relationship that seems to be working is her estranged aunt Teresa who’s tying the knot on New Years with Mariana and her cousin Lilly as bridesmaids. But the last wedding detail left unplanned is--who will Mariana kiss at midnight?

More about the author
Diana’s father is Puerto Rican and her mother is Polish mother, so she understands mutliculturalism on a personal level. She currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband Jordan and her cat Lupi, who was rescued from a shelter in Harlem. Diana enjoys traveling, watching bad TV, reading great novels, practicing yoga and cheering on the Philadelphia Eagles.

I asked, Diana answered
A. What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you? Bonus question: have you used it, in any way, in a book?
D. Well, you might find me crazy after I say this, but I think my house is haunted. It’s a 200 year-old Philadelphia town home (imagine all the people who have lived --ahem, died--here). And we’ve had a few “encounters.”

The most memorable was a CD of classical piano music that when left in the stereo used to start playing on its own at various points of the day. Trust me, it wasn?’ the timer or the sleep function, or anything like that. And it only worked with that one CD. Eventually, per one of my friend’s request, I asked the ghosts aloud to please refrain from playing the CD when we were in the house, but told them they could play it willy-nilly while we were out. After that day, it stopped.

Though truthfully, I’m not really afraid of the ghosts, at least as long as they’re accommodating.

A. Mystery writers often give their characters an unreasoning fear - and then make them face it. Do you have any phobias, like fear of spiders or enclosed spaces?
D. Bugs. All bugs, not just spiders. I can’t even get close enough to one to kill it. And once I was a contestant on Fear Factor at Universal Studios (at the theme park, not on TV). I hung suspended above the stage, stuck my hand in a vat of eels, unlocked my wrists from handcuffs, but I had no intention of drinking the blended bug juice. Thankfully, two guys beat me to punch and I didn’t have to seriously contemplate it. But I would’ve sooner jumped into a flaming building than have touched it.

A. Do you have a favorite mystery book, author, or movie?
D. When I was a teenager I was a huge fan of Christopher Pike and his books all had a mystery theme (though some included ghosts and whatnot). And I think that connection to his work indirectly inspired me to write in the young adult genre.

A. At its heart, every story is a mystery. It asks why someone acts the way they did - or maybe what will happen next. What question does your book ask?
D. I agree. Every good novel needs suspense to keep the pages turning. And I think all three of my books have a bit of mystery to them. The first book, Amor and Summer Secrets, has Mariana discovering the truth behind why her family really left Puerto Rico 30 years earlier. In the second book, Amigas and School Scandals, one of Mariana’s best friends is acting strangely and the truth behind her actions isn?t revealed until the end. And in the final book, Adios to All The Drama, Mariana is having boy (and friend) troubles rooting in issues she doesn?’ unravel until the final scenes.

A. Is there a mystery in life that you are still trying to figure out?
D. Hmm, what is the meaning of life? No, seriously. I’d like to know more about my ancestors. I know my mom’s parents (my grandparents) were from Poland, and I liked to visit one day and learn more about my family there. Same goes for my dad’s side. While I’ve visited Puerto Rico , most of my relatives there are related to my grandmother. I’d love to learn more about my grandfather’s side.

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I should know better

I'm having a birthday soon. One that ends in a 0. And I'm not dumb either - I got 1480 on my SATs (back when the top was 1600). So tell me why I do these things? Things like:

- Tell myself that I will go running in the afternoon, because the morning will be super cold.
I ran one block. One block! My body felt like a faulty robot thrown together out of old parts. I came back home and read Torn to Pieces on the exercycle. It was pretty good (it made an hour fly by) even though there were a few places where I had to suspend disbelief.

- Buy a bag of chips. Even if they are on sale. No, no, no. It's like buying heroin because it's on sale.

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